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Ogasawara Islands named World Natural Heritage site

http://www.iromegane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Ogasawara_islands.png

PARIS--The Ogasawara Islands, a group of islands dubbed the "Galapagos of the Orient" for their unique wildlife, have been added to UNESCO's list of World Natural Heritage sites, becoming the nation's fourth site to receive the designation.
The Ogasawara chain of about 30 islands is home to 57 species listed as rare by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a UNESCO advisory body. These include an endangered bat species known as the Bonin flying fox and the black-footed albatross.
http://www.nakanishi.net/og/og11.jpg
(Sakaiura)
http://www.nakanishi.net/og/og12.jpg
(Ani-Jima straits)

The islands, which are about 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo, were added to UNESCO's list of World Natural Heritage sites at the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris on Friday afternoon.
The island chain, which has never been connected with a continent, has been dubbed the "Galapagos of the Orient" because animals and plants there have undergone unique evolutionary processes--similar to wildlife on the Galapagos Islands.
In particular, 100 of the 106 species of land snails found on the islands are indigenous.
The islands, which include Chichijima and Hahajima islands, are regarded as the only place in the world where geological features visible from the ground show how an archipelago is formed when oceanic plates bump against each other.
http://www.nakanishi.net/og/og13.jpg
(Sunset of Southern Island)

In January 2010, the government recommended the Ogasawara Islands as World Heritage sites to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee. The IUCN inspected the islands in July that year and submitted in May an evaluation to UNESCO that said the islands deserved to be registered.
The islands were occupied by the United States after World War II and returned to Japan in 1968. About 2,500 people live on the islands, which can be reached by a 25-1/2-hour ferry ride from Tokyo.
The three other UNESCO-registered World Natural Heritage sites in Japan are the Shirakami Sanchi mountains in Aomori and Akita prefectures, Yakushima island in Kagoshima Prefecture and Shiretoko in Hokkaido.
Meanwhile, the Hiraizumi area in Iwate Prefecture is expected to be officially registered as a World Cultural Heritage site as early as Saturday.

By TS on Jun 27, 2011
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